It’s a well known fact that shoujo anime have never been the most original pieces of work. They follow a very basic and straightforward structure, and more often than not end up feeling way too dramatized and overly-melodramatic for no apparent reason. Once you've seen one you've seen them all, right? Some people would beg to differ, and as to disprove my claim the adaptation of Orange reared its ugly head out of the deepest depths of shoujo hell itself to quickly rise to the top of this season's charts, smirking all the while it does it. Watch as the magnificent story of Orange unfolds,
giving us deep insight into taboo topics like depression and suicide, viewed in distasteful shoujo fashion.
The story of Orange revolves around Naho, a carefree girl in her second year of highschool. One day, she stumbles upon a magical letter that is able to foresee her near future. The letter was sent from Naho to Naho 10 years in the past in hopes of her younger self being able to correct the mistakes she once made in highschool. How did the letter get there? Err.. A black hole in the Pacific ocean.. n' stuff.. I couldn't make this shit up even if I tried, could I? Anyhow, it's up to Naho to correct her past mistakes by saving the new transfer student, Kakeru Naruse, from taking his own life. As convoluted as the plot may seem, it's not bad straight off the bat for lacking a sense of realism. Instead, Orange's problem is that even that which is supposed to be grounded in reality feels like it isn't. What I'm referring to is the lousy presentation the series decided to resort to when tackling both the internal and external conflicts of the characters, like Kakeru being depressed for the sake of it and Naho being the weakest and most helpless creature on planet earth, thus making it unbearable to watch her interactions with Kakeru as she hopelessly tries to undo the regrets that the letter spoke of.
Adding on to that, to say that Naho is not a very outgoing girl would be an understatement. At certain times she appears to be completely and utterly socially inept, despite seemingly being a part of and having a decently-sized group of friends. Such a protagonist works great for Orange though, as having anyone other be the lead instead of such an indecisive girl would bring about a rather quick and uneventful resolution to things as no mind-mindbogglingly unnecessary conflict would ever arise. The fact that Naho prioritizes the most trivial of things over changing the future is also a huge problem. She finds out that there’s a way to undo one of her regrets simply by writing “No” on a piece of paper. And what does she do? She messes it up by postponing it to go and clean the classroom. And even when she isn’t caught up in anything and has a clear resolution of what she’s supposed to do, she doesn’t do it simply due to reluctance. I understand that she’s a refined girl and all but that doesn’t mean that she should constantly refrain from going out of her comfort zone every once in a while due to her shy demeanor when her actions will literally dictate whether a person lives or dies.
Following the cursed traditions of the shoujo genre, it is a given that emotion beats out logic in 99% of cases. And as such, logic and rationality completely cease to exist within the relationships between the main cast. Fuck magical letters that bend the space time continuum, Suwa's attitude towards Naho and Kakeru's relationship is where the real supernatural stuff kicks in. I don't care if he's the nicest guy on the face of the planet, no person has the ability to undermine their own feelings like that solely for someone else's sake, especially seeing as he knows Kakeru for like, what, a month? I'd have a difficult time believing it even if the two knew each other since birth, but at the start of the series they're not even buddy-buddy entry level yet. The relationship between Naho and Kakeru itself often tends to fall into unbelievable territory as well. How unrealistically oblivious these characters are to each other's feelings for a handful of episodes is what makes the series feel so stretched out at times since instead of going from A to B, their relationship has a bad habit of going on detours and wandering off to C,D and F. The "Oblivious teenagers" trope in romance anime has been oversatured beyond repair and it doesn't help when the anime at hand has a set premise that it can't seem to get to the point of because it's too busy playing a game of ring around the rosy with its' romance. Nevermind that they saw the fireworks together or held hands, that's just what friends of the opposite sex enjoy doing. No implications what so ever.
Most of the characters in Orange aren’t good or bad, but rather painfully average as they tend to play into various cookie cutter tropes due to the genre at hand. Starting from the bottom in a literal sense, we’ve got Naho. She’s weak, inattentive to an unhealthy degree, lacks the confidence to say a single sentence without stuttering, crying or running away and has no defying personality what so ever. All of these things when combined essentially just make her an all-around terrible character, with her only redeeming quality being the fact that she's relatively cute. You remember that one time you were at the shopping mall and walked by that small child that was very clearly lost? That's Naho in a nutshell. She's got absolutely no clue how to act or even think on her own and while her constant blunders keep the story moving forward, her lack of resolve ultimately makes her an extremely unlikable character.
I know it may seem like I'm nagging on her simply because she is a flawed human being, something that's supposed to make her more realistic and/or relatable. Brief rundown: A character is (not) complex when he or she is not a perfect human being or close relative of Jesus-kun. Whether a character is complex or not is simply the aftermath of good writing, something that Orange lacks entirely. Comparing her to Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion would be good practice of that. Shinji, at the end of the day, is a well-written, multilayered and sympathetic character. Granted, he is not a likable character, but his personality is entirely justified during the course of the series and the anime makes the viewer very well aware of that. Naho, on the other hand is also unlikable, but her personality is not justified in the slightest, nor is she the least bit sympathetic. She is presented as a mentally-handicapped schoolgirl that can't be bothered stepping out of her comfort zone when her actions literally dictate whether the person she loves lives or dies, and that just makes her a cunt.
Angsty Teenager-kun (Angst-kun for short) first enrolls into the story appearing as a mystery figure, as for a good duration of the story we don’t know much of anything about him. This is totally acceptable though, because by the time the nature of his character comes to light, you'll be wishing he had just remained angsty for no apparent reason. After many not-so-subtle hints throughout the anime, it is then revealed that Angst-kun suffers from clinical depression. I liked you Kakeru, I really did. Due to Naho's over-incompetence in every situation, I had come to view you as the hero who takes the initiative, thus making this story move if but a single inch further. Unfortunately, Orange seems to have a very falsified perception of depression and suicide and for that, Angst-kun had to be the scapegoat and embodiment of the writer's complete and utter lack of knowledge on this subject. There's also no real way to feel sympathy for him either, seeing as his other attributes consist of being heavily controlling and having severe anger-management issues. I can see why him and Naho get along so well. Here's how Kakeru's cycle of depression tends to play out:
Step 1: In case everything is going well, make sure to bring up your dead mother for no apparent reason other than to kill the mood
Step 2: Get pissed off about friends trying to cheer you up and unnecessarily lash out at them (preferably Naho)
Step 3: Quick, make a run for it!
Step 4: Regret doing so & turn suicidal :'(
Step 5: Rinse and repeat
If that wasn't enough, they top it all off by demonizing the relationship between his mother in order to victimize him further, until pulling a Shigatsu where it actually turns out his mother was a living saint the whole time! You know, they were just taking her bad deeds out of context, when in actuality she really cared about him.. Fuck off. Moving on, Suwa is easily the most likeable and respectable character in the entire story. However, while you can tell that unlike Kakeru, he genuinely cares about his friends' wellbeing, his stance on Naho and Kakeru's relationship is far too idealistic to be real. While his goody-two-shoes persona does make him prevail over the likes of Kakeru, it also makes his character all too stale and predictable. His best moments are easily the ones in which he feels conflicted whether or not to act upon his intuition and snatch Naho for himself instead of undermining his feelings. Unfortunately, they are very few and far in between, as for the overwhelming majority of the show he simply acts as Kakeru's wingman without bothering to intervene. No one else in their group stands out.
Art & Animation
Setting aside their heavy resemblance to puddle-toads, the character designs are somewhat visually-pleasing and even help the aesthetic in a sense. The animation doesn’t really have any opportunities to shine as the most intense it ever gets is just the characters running away from each other (I just made myself giggle).The opening looks decent for what it is and the ending is mostly just a slideshow of still images, but the directing is really where the technical department of Orange shines. I was skeptical to see the poor guy behind Steins;Gate and Texhnolyze be reduced to directing Orange, but alas, he once again successfully utilizes many different editing tricks in order to enhance the atmosphere and the various emotions displayed throughout, shrugging aside any previous doubts of mine. If anything, it just proves his talent is being entirely wasted on a project like this, as a few directing tricks ain't nearly enough to pull it back on its' feet.
Yuck. The happy-go-lucky J-pop feel of the opening and ending made me nauseous. OST and voice acting aren't anything too impressive but get the job done. KanaHana going "Eh?" 20 times per episode made me want to nom on a handgun.
It's been made very evident to me that I'm not the target demographic for this show. Orange is like my antithesis in every sense of the word, from the obnoxious cast and generic plot, to the subpar theme exploration and lacklustre pacing. Trying to complete this series was excruciating in every sense of the word. There was no light at the end of this dark, desolate tunnel. After finishing it, my psyche feels like it's been violently flushed down the toilet, head-first and everything. What was it all for? For the credibility of this review? Definitely not worth it. Apart from the directing choice, there was not a single enjoyable element in Orange to be found. Even the driving force of the show - The drama which all fans of the show (fujoshi, mainly just fujoshi) gush over felt surreal and managed to miss its mark entirely. Muh depression :<
At its core Orange is an extremely character-driven show and as such, a weak cast is the biggest detriment it can possibly have. Poor characterization accompanied by constant, God-awful melodrama and a false perception on serious subjects like depression and suicide drag the series through the dirt, when it could have been much, much more. While the themes themselves are fairly intriguing as they are rarely ever brought up within the medium, the lack of proper execution doesn't give them much of anything to stand on, and as such, they tend to violently tumble over and fall into the realm of boring impracticality, where they'll soon after be forgotten. It prioritizes constant melodrama over everything else, and suffers heavily because of it. Every weaker aspect is subsequently amplified as the show progresses, and the only way it can be fully appreciated is if the doctor's prescription of sleeping pills is currently at a standstill.
School life is so fascinating and a typical shojo romance without a setting in high school isn't common, "orange" is no different but there's a lot more to it than just being your every day's anime.
The plot is quite open from the first episode itself,nothing much of suspense.we're being introduced to Naho a 16-year-old girl,about to attend her second
year of high school abruptly receives letters while on her way to school,the letters are from Naho herself, but ten years into future, who ask her youngest self to prevent her "biggest regret" from happening and that is to save Kakeru from dying.
Though initially skeptical, Naho eventually begins to read the letters as they predict some of the events that would happen in her time, the foremost being the enrollment of Kakeru (the main character), a transfer student from Tokyo, to her class. Kakeru is quickly befriended by Naho and her friends.
Through the letters, Naho also learns that something bad will happen to Kakeru. She decides to do the opposite of the events detailed in the letters in hopes of averting it. At the same time, in future,Naho is now married and has a baby with Suwa, visits Kakeru's former home together with her friends, where it is revealed that they are attending a memorial for the long-dead Kakeru. What surprises them, however, is the revelation that Kakeru died not because of an accident, but suicide.
Now it's up to Naho and her friends to save Kakeru of this timeline where the future of their selves failed.
Mostly,we've been talking about how greatly the show touches our heart and I'm no different, but nothing is flawless and at some point,we've to be practical while judging a work as wholly and can't let our emotions get the better of us,the biggest mystery remains in this show is the execution of time travel mechanism.
It's not like Doraemon use the time machine and deliver the letter to their respectively past selves from the future.
Although we're told that they used the theory of black hole to interact with their past selves but we would never know how they did it,this part is so mess up and I wouldn't have complained if it was just a regular romance shoujo but it's a sci-fiction as well,we got all the rights to know and all other aspects can't overshadow it,Something things are better left untouched rather than bringing up unrealistic logics.
The story mainly revolves around these three Kakeru, Naho and Suwa,although we can't deny the fact the others characters are less important,but they didn't get much spotlight.
Kakeru-I considers him the most realistic character of the show,it's not often that an issue like depression is highlighted in the story these days, but over here it's done precisely in the form of Kakeru.
He's the type of guy who would never show the pain in front of others and will bear it all alone from inside.
Naho- she's like any other girl of her age who believe in first-time love,she was deeply committed to saving Kakeru.
Suwa-The most cheerful guy in the crew,despite his feelings toward Naho he tried his best to keep her happy and help Kakeru.
Hagita- A creepy character but he did something good at the end.
Azusa-The official bread girl.
Takako-A friend,I really don't know what else to say.
Who doesn't like a love triangle?Probably many but still I would like to bring up.
In the future timeline, Naho fell in love with Kakeru but things didn't work out right and had much lesser interaction,meanwhile, Suwa couldn't control his feelings anymore,confessed to her,Kakeru died and they end up together but a feeling of regret always remained in Naho which hurt Suwa seeing her like this
In the parallel timeline, Naho fell in love with Kakeru as usual and was able to understand him better and spend more time,while Suwa deeply in love with Naho knew the outcome if he was to confess his feelings,so he didn't let himself become a bother to their relation and ended up acting as the selfless good guy but no one is certain of the future.
I don't know why so much hatred towards Kakeru,everyone got their fair chance in both the timelines.
Another breakthrough point for an anime besides the plot is the animation and over here,it's pretty mediocre.
Although the background seems to be quite up to the mark but the characters design,movements are so sluggish and imperfect,it's really disappointing to see.
The opening 'Hikari no Hahen" by Yu Takahashi is really splendid and set the mood for the next 20 minutes of the show while the ending "Mirai" by Kobukuro act as a catalyst to all those feelings we go through.
And it's a anime with deep emotion and with the right tone,it did justice to the show.
I did enjoy it and each episode was an emotionally roller coastal ride for me, but I somehow felt that the manga was better in depicting each aspect to the fullest.
Emotion is something that fuels us,as everything we do is fueled by love,hate,passion,sadness;thus opening up an infinite number of paths which will inevitably change the way we see thing forever as every second goes by,Positive or negative there will be changes and that gamble of nature is thrilling.So get ready to ride on the feel train.
It may not be the best adaptation right now but as a whole, it was worth watching and one of the best, the summer has to offer.
Adorned in lush textures of green and wrapped up in the endless blue horizon of the summer sky, Orange rests softly on the lips like a faint drop of nostalgia just waiting to be recollected. Approaching the quiet slice of countryside that remained dormant over countless winters, we're flung back 10 years to where it all began. The place where two paths collided but only one was allowed to move forward. A place tucked away behind walls of foliage, cradled in a valley older than time itself. There it resides, a small town that carries with it a sense of cultural simplicity that only the
exclusion of the outside world could allow. Under the cover of low hanging branches, the sun pierces its way through, lighting the path where a group of friends walks side by side to a future that lays bare before them. And in this huddle of jovial faces, we find Naho; a soft-spoken girl that has within her grasp a letter. A letter that will forever alter the course she takes and the fate of the ones huddled around her.
And with the arrival of a new student named Kakeru from Tokyo, this quiet little town perks up, and so does the latent curiosity that rests in the girl's heart. A spark ignites as these two worlds collide, their fates forever becoming intertwined in the process. And so begins the tale that unravels before us. A tale of bittersweet consequence, regret and seeking solace in the embrace of others.
Breathing new life into what many would consider a worn out formula, Orange proves that even overused set-pieces could be spun into something engaging and authentic. By only giving events a gentle push when need be, the anime is allowed the freedom to run its own course. To emote in ways that feel at home for its characters and not at the mercy of the scriptwriters pushing an agenda. And with acclaimed director, Hiroshi Hamasaki, the man behind such works as Steins;Gate and Texhnolyze, taking the helm, this is instantly felt with the first painted frame that makes itself known to us. And as things come into focus, we're formally introduced to its world and the tale it wishes to display.
After opening a letter addressed to her, Naho is rendered speechless by the contents written inside:
"I'm writing this letter ten years in your future."
Was it a practical joke? Her friends leading her on for harmless fun? Or perhaps it was something more profound... and maybe, just maybe, the words addressed to herself, from herself, was real? But as the day transpired the unlikely answer became truth and any doubt that might have lingered faded away with the realization of what she held in her hand. This was no mere trick, this was real.
"This is the one day I don't want you to invite Kakeru", she didn't listen before, but now she heeds the words. Now she knows that this far-fetched truth isn't something to disregard. Whether it be something as grand as divine prophecy or simply an elaborate setup she's incapable of figuring out, what is for certain is that the letter wasn't wrong; a window into the future, a truth beyond comprehension.
But what she does understand is her friends. The clique that always welcomes her with open arms. Free to look on at their antics in silent bliss. Hitaga's larger than life persona, as he fends off comments, constantly being playfully antagonized by the quick-witted Azu, taking pleasure in seeing him fluster behind his thick-framed glasses, while Suwa towers over them amused by the "married couple" squabble taking place. Takako hanging back instigating with Azu complying gleefully, as they all crack a smile enjoying each others company. Trailing behind them with a small gesture of content, Naho doesn't ask for anything more than this. These are the moments that they live for. The moments that Naho feel at home. And with Kakeru being brought into the mix, it's these moments she never wants to let go of.
Despite being indoctrinated into the group with ease, Kakeru remains the anomaly. He flashes a reserved smile, accepts their gestures of friendship, humor them when they tease each other, and even participate on occasion. But just behind his gentle expression, there's a feeling of distance. A wall that keeps them outside from the truth that's eating away within. A mind that's off somewhere else, a lonely place that only his thoughts are allowed to occupy. And staring back at him is Naho, fixated on the truth behind the smoke and mirrors.
The truth she now possesses. Kakeru isn't going to be around for long if he follows this path. An idea that saddens her to the core.
The pain of carrying that burden alone. A life resting in her hands. A life she cares for immensely, yet can't express without the fear of rejection, or perhaps even more unnerving, the fear of being loved in return. Determined to save him, she's forced to open up. A girl who's not confident in her own self-worth having to muster up enough courage for both of them. And though she may fumble over her words, go about nervously to even make eye contact, afraid of being adored by another, scared to death at the thought of being yearned for, she still presses on. Whether she manage to surpass the regret of her future-self at one minute to only fail the next task, every fiber of her being want to keep Kakeru alive. A love that's equal parts selfish and unquestionable. A love she feels guilty for; ashamed at the thought of pressing for answers that she knows will hurt him to express. A pain of caring too much to see him go but being too bashful to say what's needed to make him stay.
Regret, suicidal tendencies, adolescence, young love, life altering decisions, self-acceptance, self-awareness, selfish desire, deceit, earning trust, learning to let go, accepting defeat, perseverance.
A whirlwind of dilemmas is heaped onto her plate the moment she decides to take action to stop the inevitable, whether she's aware of them or not.
But is it alright to change the future, to listen to herself 10 years ahead? A 26-year-old Naho, willing to change the decision of her reserved younger self for a future that would rob her of the life of a newborn child, nestled in the bosom of a loving mother's arms and a man who's in his own right the right match for her? This decision becomes about much more than saving someone, it becomes about weighed sacrifices. Nothing can be gained without the loss of something else. Is it right to gamble the happiness of others, and possible life of another, just to fulfill a want to preserve someone else's? Even the most trivial of occurrences could tip the scales in one side's favor. Fate doesn't choose favorites. The slightest swing of the pendulum determining the fate and love of those involve. A fragile web that's only held in place by the desire to mend wounds not yet made and save a life that's not yet lost.
The summer breeze caressing her cheek, orange hair fluttering ever so gently with eyes of emerald looking outward to the unforeseen outcome of her actions. Was it right for her to challenge destiny? Was it her call to make? Resting his steady hand on her shoulder, a caring look of reassurance offered, Suwa eases the burden; don't worry, I'm on your side, no matter the decision. A silent exchange that says everything.
These are the moments that are brought to life by the talented team staffed with seeing the vision through. With vibrant earth tones protruding through brushstrokes of greenery, a rustic, yet polish look that's acid washed in Hiroshi's unique stylistic choices; everything displays a delicate touch, fine-tuned by people who care about the projects they're working on. With character design credit given to Nobuteru Yuuki, the same man that lent his talent to Kids on the Slope and Paradise Kiss, it all comes together into one cohesive piece. Carrying this off is a soundtrack that gently chimes in when the time calls for it, with the soft stroke of an acoustic guitar, thump of drums, piano keys and the occasional presence of zany instrumentals used when the time was right. It's a soundtrack that doesn't drown out the actions on screen but instead works in synchronicity with it. Choosing to be a supporting act than the main attraction.
This was also true with the opening and ending themes, with "Hikari no Hahen" by Yu Takahashi capturing the essence of what's seen when you visit the world of Orange and "Mirai" by Kobukuro capping it off with a bittersweet performance that embodies the latent emotions that makes itself more apparent the further you venture in. The two, art and audio, found a space that they both occupy with complete acceptance of the other, making it a match that felt just right. This isn't to say that the presentation is always consistent, there are certainly moments that falter, but when it counts, it really drives things home.
Orange takes school rom-com setups and elevates it beyond the stereotypical trappings and downright formulaic reactionary content it's usually infamous for. Where most school-orientated anime see fit to typecast characters with a small stock selection of personalities to choose from, often being identified by garishly colorful hairstyles and borderline caricature appearances, Orange breaks away from this cast-iron mold, going against typing and the very notion of limited range for what's supposed to be considered as "relatable" characters. Instead, we're given teenagers that look and act like teenagers should. There's no token tsundere or mullet sporting high school delinquents, only different people with their own mannerisms and personalities being brought together under one roof. This unit all compliment each other, in a manner that's done without so much as outright stating it.
We simply see it in their daily interactions. The socially inept know-it-all Hitaga's stubborn outward gestures against Azu's teasing, the two practically joined at the hip, refusing to address the source of their partnership. Takako's level-headed outlook on her friends, eons ahead of them in maturity but won't hesitates to join in on 'girl talk' if the chance presents itself. Naho's reserved nature, a person too kind to say no, satisfied with just being able to see others happy. And then there's Suwa's adopted role as big brother, putting aside his own happiness in order to aid the happiness of others. He willingly becomes the anchor and bearer of unrequited love. Harboring his feelings to allow another to blossom, all while doing it with a smile on his face.
Each of these friends existing independently of each other but choosing to pool together where they have others that complete whatever they lack. Good on their own but better when there's a shoulder to lean on. Someone to share their happiness, troubles and existence with. The very idea that frightens the outsider being accepted within their circle.
Kakeru admires but fears the very idea of their friendship. A lingering thought that he carries with him, afraid to open up to let others in:
"I don't deserve it. I haven't earned it. I'm not good enough. No one understands me. If I get too close I will only hurt them in the end. How could anyone care for me after what I've done? I shouldn't be allowed happiness."
He sits there, eating away, wanting to reach out but pulling away out of fear. But whenever he's had enough, ready to end it all, there's always a voice ringing out in the distance. His name being called out by the short-statured girl with burnt orange hair. A girl that tugs at him to stay. A girl he wants nothing but the best for.
Orange isn't filled with characters spouting out summations of themselves, nor does it bother to hammer home points not expressed explicitly through dialogue. It lets the actions, the expressions, the mannerisms, the scenes, the camera, the color, the music, the very nature of the show itself, to do all the talking in its place.
And while I've expressed nothing but the utmost praise for Orange, there's still a great deal of issues that plague it. For one, details pertaining to the conflict itself.
Admittedly, the romance aspect can get clumsy at times. There are occasions where it's awkward and that doesn't count scenes when it was done so on purpose. With the density of some characters really pushing it, especially when considering their giant progressive leaps forward in the latter half of the show, it does wane on you a bit, if only temporary. A big confessional scene could be truncated for awkward teenage crushing by the next episode. A kind of regression that felt like it served only to pad out the schedule running time than it did to service the material at hand. While some of these issues could be credited with the fact that they're teenagers and are not fully capable of expressing themselves to the best of their capabilities, it still doesn't magically make the feeling disappear. But of course, that's an excuse I'm sure many have grown tired of hearing, despite the fact that it inherently holds a great deal of truth about any youth in the middle of their teenage years. It's not always an answer we like but it's still one that's accepted for the sake of immersion.
And then there're viewers that would address the issue regarding time-travel. Let it be known that there wasn't any need to try to explain the mechanics of the time-travel used since time-travel was nothing but a narrative tool to set in motion what really mattered: the characters. But even with that being said, it doesn't negate the fact that that element of the show was never properly explained in a meaningful way, and given the form it came in as a letter, required some suspension of disbelief as to why more wasn't done to take full advantage of it. However, I believe downplaying the time-travel as something that's not needed to drive its narrative or be used to reset mistakes if they fail to follow through on the words written the first time, was the best decision to make. Had they been able to repeat key events constantly, it would diminish the regret and success of their efforts throughout the course of the show. The letter was simply a timeline for them to follow, the actual legwork, struggle, pain, happiness, lessons learned and obstacle conquered was of their own accord. And when their efforts, or lack thereof, diverge from what's written on the letter, it disproves any omniscience to control the course of time or predict it flawlessly, which makes this an example of a plot device not being abused. And when accounted for how often that isn't the case for anime that include time-travel, or other forms of media for that matter, that's a great accomplishment.
And in a nutshell, that's Orange's greatest strength, taking things that are quickly disregarded such as school rom-coms and time-travel setups and turning them into something that could be engaging and level headed.
If time-travel is readily abused, don't make it a central focus of your narrative, use it as more of a guideline instead. If school rom-coms are infamous for having color coordinated one-dimensional personas, take a subdued approach that pulls from the same core values but brought to life with personalities that feel far more believable. Orange takes the basics and proves that with enough care it could be acknowledged again as a viable means of storytelling.
And as we step back, leaving the world of Orange behind us, zooming past the aged walkways, green linen jackets worn by adolescence; back through the cracks of the skyline hidden behind a wall of leaves hanging above, we know that we're leaving a place with a memory to take away from it. And as we become less aware of its existence, going about our own routines, the world of Orange and its inhabitants continues on, living their day to day lives, making memories of their own and looking up in bewilderment at the endless blue, pondering as to what their future may hold.
"Sometimes it's better to learn from the past than to try and go back changing it all... But if given the chance, what would we really do?"
Have you ever regretted something so much you'd do anything possible to change the outcome? Maybe it was something as trivial as not asking that one person out, forever leaving the question out there of "what if?" Or perhaps you even knew of someone hurting internally from depression, and didn't give your best effort to help them cope, with the worst possible outcome reaching fruition. At times, this can make us feel helpless, responsible or even apathetic. Hindsight is
20/20, but what if that retrospective approach could be realized? What if you could alter your previous regrets and change the outcome of the future? Would you finally get a chance to forgive yourself? Would this corrective measure spawn even worse implications? In the end, are things are better left as they are, or fixed to fit our own perception of "correct"?
The truth is, there may not be a single correct answer.
OBLIGATORY SPOILERS WARNING :D
Orange is a series that had me intrigued since I first heard about it. Personally, the premise was irrelevant based on director Hiroshi Hamasaki's previous works as the lead on Steins;Gate and Texhnolyze. The Slice of Life genre can be so hit and miss with me, so I had no idea what to expect coming into it. Orange focuses less on the day to day lulls of everyday life and more on love, loss and the importance of relationships. Mix in the ever ambiguous element of time travel for good measure and you've got a series destined for some great table talk, if nothing else. It's not the most "exciting" show around, and will stumble along the way, but in the end will give viewers a new outlook on the Slice of Life genre entirely.
Naturally, the first anime I could compare Orange to is that of Anohana- The Flower We Saw That Day due to the subject matter of premature loss. Granted the death in that anime was purely accidental, the retrospective grief exhibited by the main characters here is reminiscent of the series. Another difference between the two are the plot devices. For some reason, everyone seems to have their own take on how time travel works. Although it's never actually been completed on record, some have formulated rather complex technicalities regarding the theory. Of course, Orange exposed its own narrative to these figurative pencil-pushers when it introduced the element into its story, and even I'll admit it is done rather half-assed. Did you know that throwing letters into a black hole somewhere near the Bermuda Triangle could, betwixt space and time, send them 10 years into the past? No? Me either.
In order to actually enjoy Orange, this is the time I ask you to put your critical thinking caps back on the shelf, and focus on its important aspects. It's easy to become distracted by such melancholy narratives and skim over glaring plot holes, but this is best in Orange's case... or you might miss a rather enjoyable anime. Forget about how much you think you know about time travel and experience the series for what it truly is, a drama slice of life.
There are a multitude of "little things" Orange nails with its direction. The way Naho and Kakeru act toward each other is a perfect snapshot of teenage romance. Everything is awkward, there's lots of dead air in conversation and enough blushing to make any weeaboo giddy with excitement. This relationship is a seed, gently nurtured a little each episode, inelegant in all facets but eventually blossoms into a unique thing of beauty. This is pretty spot on for what real love looks like. The writers also do a fine job showcasing the sour side of love when Naho gets pushed to the side or showing Suwa contemplate his own feelings in secret regarding her. This is a very important part of the show, and I must say Suwa has quite the iron will for everything he let pass him by along the way. This genre of anime can often be melodramatic or exaggerated immensely, so it's refreshing to see an anime like Orange create a high school atmosphere we can all identify with instead of one with unrealistic, heavily endowed 16 year olds and scrappy Tsunderes flying around.
Another well written aspect of the series is the pacing. There are many instances in SoLs where "things are happening, things are happening.... BAM! Insert major timeline jump or plot twist with no foreshadowing". The series slowly builds up over time, with the eventual conclusion offered as a reward for patience as a viewer and honestly it felt rather satisfying. Rewatching the first few episodes of Orange kind of made me smirk due to the many intricate foreshadowing elements sprinkled around each episode. It's certainly something I didn't expect from this genre of anime.
I can imagine how difficult it would be to tackle heavy-hearted subjects in anime such as suicide or mourning. Most anime often treat death as something that happened in the past and default to flashbacks and scenes with the shrine of the deceased loved one. Orange places you in the moment, and truly builds up your own relationship with Kakeru, making the realization of his fate that much more impactful. It isn't delicate with its approach, and shows both sides of the coin with its description. I can say it left an impression on me and changed my outlook on suicide in general.
The ending of Orange, or rather the final 3 episodes caught me off guard. I was initially assuming the viewers wouldn't get a take of Kakeru's side of the story. On the surface, it was hard to fathom why anyone would actually kill themselves the way he did, with the reasons he did. It's obvious as a viewer that his mother's death wasn't his fault, yet he bares the entire load himself. The anime from his side of the story is eye opening, and builds into a fine ending with appropriate closure (something we don't see often enough in anime). I personally appreciated it's honesty, and it wasn't necessarily a "rose colored" ending we were probably all hoping for but it was real. Well, except for all that time travel jargon.
I've already professed the relatability the characters in Orange exude. They act like high schoolers without an over-dramatized personality, they interrupt each other's sentences and there are few to no tropes present overall (something I was excited about). Naho is a very "real" main protagonist. As much as I wanted to shake her through my tv screen at times, it reminded me of how stupid I must have seemed at similar points during my own high school life. It does seem odd that this group of friends rarely argue or have moments of strife within their click, but I guess that's not necessarily a bad thing. The final episodes tied up the loose ends I had with Kakeru as a character and it couldn't have been presented any better. Those of you shelving this series before the last 3 episodes... I urge you to pick it back up and try again.
Unfortunately, Orange is produced by Telecom Animation Film, a relatively unsuccessful studio. This leads to rather inconsistent or sloppy animation at times, but not quite enough to affect the show's overall atmosphere. The directing was a gleaming fault I can bring up as well. Aside from the positives I mentioned, it's rather lackluster. I understand this is one of the first popular manga adaptations for this studio, but even so, there are some portions of scenes that felt rather dull or ill-envisioned. The best part of the directing? It doesn't really ruin it for me. In Re Zero, the plot was weak but good directing made it rather enjoyable while with Orange the good plot isn't ruined by bad directing. It was a crucial lifesaver for this anime.
I hated the OP the first couple of weeks with its odd animation and music, but it actually grew on me by the final episode. The ED is also fitting for the series, atmosphere wise. The soundtrack was average, but I often didn't notice background tracks. This can be a double edged sword from an enjoyment perspective but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt here. Voice acting is very good with Kana Hanazawa (Black Rock Shooter, Onodera from Nisekoi) nailing another solid performance as Naho.
Should you watch Orange? Well, if you can live with my added disclaimer regarding the time travel concept, the series has quite a bit more to offer. Sure it stumbles along and deals with very touchy subject matter, but it is something I truly believe anyone could enjoy. Realistic characters with great pacing and a beautifully crafted ending works to overshadow the time travel eyesore and subpar directing and Ill say it does so quite well. I am impressed with how much I ended up liking it in the end and would recommend it to any anime fan. As always, thanks for reading and be sure to check out the rest of my Summer '16 anime reviews!
Tell me, dear reader, why do you think this series is called Orange? Is it because of the symbolic orange juice from episode three? Is it because the main character’s hair looks rather orange in the sunlight? Both are interesting and passable theories, but I would like to present my own:
It’s because the main character has the intelligence of an orange.
Orange is one of those common scenarios where the show starts off pretty well but then fizzles out towards the end, but not really because it has strong drama in the beginning that falls apart later--in fact, the first episodes are not particularly overwhelming. But
rather, Orange was natural, organic, and fresh with its cast and even its setting, until the latter half of the series, where things don’t exactly fall off the tree altogether… they just grow rotten.
Time travel is a difficult concept to tackle; it’s a quick attention-grabber that will draw in a large audience, but screwing it up just a little bit can cause all hype to ERASE. I was skeptical of Orange’s concept myself, for these questions.
1. Why do the people in this anime have the ability to send letters into the past when their only life problem seems to be losing a single friend? Why not give it to the MC of 91 Days so that he can prevent his parents from getting shot? I think that guy deserves it a little more.
2. How does it work? Are there certain limitations, such as what you can and can’t send? Can you send yourself a bunch of money and tell yourself to put it in the bank to be super rich in the future and not start getting into cocaine early on? Maybe if the latter happens, you can send a bomb and just end it quickly. Wait, would killing yourself in the past count as suicide? ...Sorry, I’ll get back to the point.
3. Why are they using this amazing gift just to potentially save someone’s life instead of something more noble and grand, such as preventing a massive tragedy, like the death of Harambe? Or Berserk fans?
The last question isn’t exactly a criticism of what goes on in the story, just a point that this concept could be used in way more interesting ways.
Plus, this concept just leaves a weird taste in my mouth. Future Naho has a bunch of friends surrounding her, a great husband, and a beautiful child… so she thinks “this fucking sucks” and just writes to herself in the past so she can change it? Alright. Granted, this is somewhat remedied in the future, but it’s pretty far down the line so this kinda bugged me for a while.
On a bit of a plus, the concept of the time travel letters was done pretty well for a while. It makes a lot of sense for Naho to be skeptical of them at first, because Future Naho apparently hadn’t considered that it's at least slightly weird to say that she's her from the future and that she knows all this shit that's gonna happen. So, naturally, Naho ignores the first thing or two, and there are consequences to obeying or disobeying the letters, but these consequences aren’t usually seen right away. This is great! It's not a quick and obvious story, therefore reducing predictability. They also naturally cause a chain reaction, with the influence of certain, early decisions continuing to make an impact many episodes deep into the show.
But eventually, the reader of a time travelled letter is gonna figure out that it’s not bullshit and start obeying every rule made; therefore, there can’t be any drama for disobeying them because there’s no disobeying to be done. How is this overcome in Orange?
Well, to being with, the main character, Naho, is--and let’s be reasonable here--a complete fizzlefuck with a brain having the consistency of mashed potatoes. I mean, my Arceus, her social ineptness goes to the point where I considered her to have some sort of mental deficit. She kinda sort of maybe tries to possibly form a relationship or so with Kakeru, the person she and her much more socially competent friends are trying to save, but when it comes to actually doing anything, her awkwardness and clumsiness don’t help out much, if at all. It comes off as normal at first, sure, but there doesn’t seem to be any learning curve over the course of the series--if anything, her incompetence goes up.
A bigger problem is the weird lack of drama in this show. Since the letters lay the plot out perfectly, there’s not much room for drama outside of Naho having a mushy brain. Naho needs a good rival. Someone who comes in to swoop Kakeru awa--oh wait, that actually happens! For a brief moment. The drama caused by That One Bitch (that’s her name) is cleaned up pretty quickly because of the letters, and then she disappears from the show completely. I wish she didn’t, and that the drama wasn’t solved so quickly. Having some sort of dramatic subplot would’ve been a nice break from the constant focus of the letters--or even better, someone could potentially steal the letters and use them against them instead. Wouldn’t that be something.
The other problem with the drama and the time travel is the character of Kakeru. He’s… boring. Too boring. In fact, the only personality trait he seems to have is that he’s depressed. This is the guy who needs to be saved, the person everything in the show revolves around, but I don't actually care about him that much. Just because a character is depressed doesn’t mean I’ll automatically like them. I like to be entertained. I want characters to be fun or interesting in some way. Someone is depressed and gloomy all the time? Oh. Well, have fun being sad, I guess. Just slapping the trait of depression on someone seems like a really lazy way to write an emotional story.
And since this is a romance anime, guess what? The two most boring characters in the show, Naho and Kakeru, are supposed to get together. You can kinda imagine how this goes, even moreso with Naho’s clumsiness. But see, that doesn’t bother me too much. I could just not really care about that shipping in the end. But it bothers me instead, because Future Naho’s husband, Suwa, is a major character in this show, who has feelings for her. This is a WAY better ship, because Suwa is a much more interesting character than Cockeru and actually does things other than be depressed. He was someone I was actually rooting for in the end. And I'm not alone--go on forums, go on Reddit. Many other people were rooting for Suwa in the end. When you have a show that’s destined to pair two characters together, but the audience is rooting for a different possibility that completely contradicts the story… that’s not a good thing.
And the explanation of the time travel… holy shit. Maybe they call it Orange because that's what Makise Kurisu would be shitting if she heard about this. Remember when in ERASED, it was a problem that they never explained the main character’s power? Now I feel like it might’ve been for the better, because Orange is so painfully dumb with its own idea that I wish they didn’t share it at all. I’m not sure if it’s a spoiler to post it or not, but it involves a really basic urban legend, and… nothing. That’s it. Someone in Future Naho’s group of friends connects it to a completely random class they had once (which was actually shown, to be fair), because everyone remembers random classes they had ten years ago, and… nothing. That’s it. They all completely believe this crazy legend that has absolutely no conclusive proof to it, and apparently make a huge effort to take a vacation wherever they need to go in order to perform it. The fact that it actually works annoys me, I wish these fuckers got lost at sea trying to attempt this stupid plan.
But if there’s any consolation, it’s not until very close to the end of the series where they actually explain this, so it isn’t a huge focus. It’s just kinda there to say that there’s a reason for it to work, I guess, even if that reason is retarded.
Enough of the negatives for now, though. Why was I a little impressed with the show at first, outside of the concept? Because it sells its setting, and to an extent it’s characters (despite what I said), very well. It’s a school, which automatically sounds generic, but it really feels like an actual high school. There’s always something going on, some people talking and moving and doing something in the background. Just a few details like some random stock characters saying a couple lines make it feel lively. And Naho’s group of friends really seem like a group of people who are friends. They each have great chemistry with each other, teasing each other by saying a bunch of dumb shit and playing off of their lines, always having a good time and being there for each other. The people not named Nah, Ho and Cock-a-doodle-do are quite fun to watch and breathe a lot of life into Orange’s natural environment.
However, Orange is not completely tinted Orange, so it gets a 1/10 in the art department. But it does, at least, have some pretty strong lighting; that’s what stands out to me the most in the early episodes, as there isn’t a whole lot to do in terms of animation or even character design, which is about average… in the early episodes. Later on, the show almost completely falls apart at points, with character models looking completely sloppy, like the studio only had five minutes to animate the episode. After all, TMS Entertainment did like every show this season that J.C. Staff didn’t have a hand in, or something. But, it’s still driven forward by what I said about the environment being lively, with a lot of things going on in the back.
The soundtrack wasn’t memorable at all, though. By episode four, I wrote a note saying “every song is acoustic guitar” and didn’t seem to keep track of it beyond that. Oh. The OP is okay, though… I don’t like the singer very much, but the song is very mellow and pretty well-written. The ED is pretty boring with its even more mellow, dreary tone, but it at least has some decent art of the gang together. And there aren’t any post-credit scenes, so it’s easy to skip anyway.
I recommend Orange to those looking for teenage melodrama, but do know that it’s not too interesting due to its overall lack of drama and really basic motivations for the characters. Perhaps if you’re into time travel and some consequences of it, Orange kinda taps into that, but not too much. I do wish they could’ve done with the letters…
Other than that, Orange was… eh. It was okay, I guess. It wasn’t horrible; I’m not even sure if I can say that it was flat-out bad. I wish a lot more could’ve been done, though. It plays itself almost unconfidently, with its basic lead characters and lack of drama. It’s too safe.
Story - 5/10
Art - 5/10
Sound - 4/10
Character - 4/10
Entertainment - 4/10
Juice - Tangy/10
Overall - 4.25/10 (Range: 3.75-5.5)
Favorite episodes - 1, 3
Favorite character - Suwa
Recommendation level - Medium-low
Aw, those sweet teenage years, your first crush, those sunny afternoons hanging out with friends, that hot suicidal boy your future self told you to hook up with… Wait, wut?
Introducing Orange, an anime that will challenge your patience with a super original game of Will they, won’t they? and ultimately makes you wish that not only the angsty-but-kind-at-heart Kakeru, but all the rest of the cast dies in the end.
I have to admit, I really enjoyed the first two episodes of the show. We’re introduced to a bunch of friends and their sweet dynamics, everything feels super sweet and lovely. The main character, Naho, receives
a letter from her future self giving instructions to prevent her from living a life of regrets, 10 years in the future. Ok, everything makes sense ’til now, it’s actually a super beautiful concept. BUT… Where the first episode leaves you with “Kakeru might not be there in 10 years”, the second episode ends with “Kakeru killed himself”. And this is where things start to go down. First of all, you’re living a full beautiful life 10 years in the future, you’re married to your best friend from high school (seriously, isn’t that awesome?), yet you reunite all your friends (including your husband and father of your son) and decide to write a letter to your former self, giving her instructions to basically prevent someone’s death and end up with him. Seriously, this is so wrong on so many different levels. You’ve known the guy for like two days, yet you hate yourself so much that you want to tell your former self to spend the rest of her life with a suicidal boy who might end up becoming incredibly harmful to all the people around him. Right, it’s a shojo. Damn, I keep forgetting the shojo rules. And apparently your husband is on board, so who cares? Not only that, but the pacing of each subsequent episode becomes a slow and painful ride that leads us right to the most absurd and stupid ending I’ve seen in years (and I’ve watched How I met your mother, mind you). So, the story is a big no-no for me. Good idea, terrible execution.
I can’t expect a beautiful mindfuck a la Steins;Gate from a shojo, so, even if the plot feels more simplistic, at least it should rely on solid characters. Nope. Not the case.
Amoeba - our main character. She’s really hot. Like, really really hot. I think it’s the only single reason why people would want to be her friends. I also suspect she might be somehow “special”, I seriously can’t understand how a girl can be so dumb.
Kakeru aka “Awkward looks in the camera” - the (suicidal) love interest. A character so unlikeable that you’ll wonder why every girl seems to start ovulating around him. He doesn’t have a solid background, he just acts super randomly cause “depression”. I mean, when I was in school I’ve always wanted that friend I had to be careful what I said when he was around in order to prevent him from jumping in front of a truck (whoops, spoiler!).
Suwa “Gingers-have-souls” - the only decent human being in the show. Maybe too decent. Grow a pair Suwa, seriously, you just don’t give up on your love cause you made a new soccer buddy.
Ugly nerd with glasses/Hot boy without glasses - someone that had to be there to make sure there were enough characters.
The evil twins from The Shining - annoying girl friends who show up just to make uncomfortable comments about Amoeba holding hands (whoa, you can get pregnant with that!) with Kakeru.
Regina George - Kakeru’s love interest for a bunch of episodes. She’s there mainly to pick up on Amoeba. If this anime was told from her point of view, I’m sure it would be way better.
Art & Animation
Not bad, the character design is nothing special but it works good. I really like the blushing effect on everyone’s cheeks (3/4 of the show). The backgrounds are quite ok.
I think that the OP is one of the worst I’ve heard in a long time. Seriously, it’s so bad it made me skip the opening pretty much everytime. ED was nothing special but better. Voices were a lot of “awww” and stuff like that. Kakeru’s soothing depressed voice made me want to hang myself to the ceiling. The OST throughout the show was nothing too impressive.
The premise of the show was really good, the cast, at first, looked really fun and nice but turned out to be incredibly flat and boring soon after. I seriously have a problem with the story itself, you can’t save someone from depression/attempting suicide by telling him “Hey, you look hawt, wanna hook up?”. No, that’s just stupid, I’m sorry, I won’t accept it. Not to mention that this kind of anime really portrays women like helpless puppies looking for directions and willing to do whatever their alpha male says. No, this is just stupid and offensive to women imo. Sorry Orange, you suck.
"Life comes in twists and turns" - a line from Orange
LA couldn't said it any better...
Orange was one of the more prominent and known drama anime to come out of Summer 2016 and for the most part, the popularity of this show is justified, however there were something that irked LA by the halfway point to it, as most media do, they have subjective and objective flaws no matter what.
Orange is another one of the anime with the trend of "time travel" used, but for the majority of Orange, the "time travel" is a small element and "speculation" to the plot that a major focus
to it, Orange focuses on regret, drama and youth rather than the "power to change the future" scthick with the time travel element.
In terms of characters and their development, the main cast do get their developments due to the main cast being in a group and there are some romantic tensions here and there from Kakeru Naruse voiced by Seiichirou Yamashita and Naho Takamiya voiced by Kana Hanazawa which is one of the main crux of the anime. Their romantic development is sweet at best, frustrating at worst but it being the main couple of this anime, it's obvious that the focus goes to those two the most. Due to the rest of the main cast in the group, Hiroto Suwa voiced by Makoto Furukawa, Saku Hagita voiced by Kazuyuki Okitsu and Azusa Murasaka voiced by Natsumi Takamori were at least developed alongside the main couple. The least developed character in the main cast would have been Takako Chino voiced by Rika Kinugawa. In terms of individual development, Kakeru gets the most focus as the plot is mainly about him, Naho and Suwa also gets developed in different ways but mainly coincide with Kakeru's dilemma. Naho gets further developed with Kakeru romantically though it get rocky with some annoyances LA saw on LA's part...on speaking of which...
Romantically there really is only three you can root for, Naho and Kakeru, Naho and Suwa and the beta coupling of Hagita and Azusa. There is just one problem with the main couple's relationship and yes at the start it's because Naho is shy about telling her true feelings to Kakeru but the letters help her push this relationship as well as the main reason the letter's function to the story as a whole furthers this relationship and opens both Naho and Kakeru, so what's the problem.....no matter what happens Kakeru ALWAYS PUSHES Naho away because of his "destiny" sure we realize WHY he does it and the final episode redeemed Kakeru for LA, but he just snaps at any moment pushing Naho further away before all this and it got to the point LA was rooting for the beta couple or hell Naho and Suwa than this main coupling. it was aggravating to say the least and bleed into the story as melodrama and "can't fight fate".
Due to the nature of this anime, using the "time travel letter" but in the drama genre, the time travel gimmick is nothing more than element and plot device in the drama genre and even the time travel letter gets a small plot hole LA found. (What was it?...well considering the letters are written a day of paper, does the time travel letter have an entire booksworth of information???...but yeah, small minor plot hole). Nonetheless the further the anime goes the less it focuses on the time travel letter, which brings in the entirety of "fate" and "changing the future". On speaking of "plot holes"...next is LA's flaws on Orange...
LA's own problems with this anime comes rather easy, romance-wise LA already told LA's grievances and annoyance with that. Come the halfway point (or to be more precise, the School Sports Festival) was that the sentiments and message of "friendship" was by far heavy-handed and all the more in your face and if a message is in your face throughout roughly 40 minutes is became disgruntly annoying, LA got the sentiments as to what it was trying to do, but trying too hard just became annoying. The other obvious problem is that with Kakeru's dilemma as well as the simultaneous Naho trying to get together goes into typical melodrama, mainly on Kakeru's part and that's where the majority of LA's annoyances comes from. Where Orange felt like it jumped the shark was the entire "method" of how the letter was even transported back to the past, sure their future selves were in a rut and just thought up some ideas and sure Orange has a bit of supernatural element with the concept of letters being transported back into the past but really finding out how they "did it" is one of the most baffling moments in Orange PERIOD.
In terms of voice acting, well even though this is a romance drama anime, LA felt like most of the voice actors were on auto-pilot, sure they were pretty great for the first half of the anime, but it felt like they started to not care (besides the more dramatic moments anyways). If there was a voice actor LA liked in Orange, it would have to go to Natsumi Takamori as the genki Azusa Murasaka as well as Kana Hanazawa as Naho in second.
In terms of animation by Telecom Animation Film, the animation was consistent throughout and the visuals on how the camera were used were used to great effect, such as sudden transitions on weird differing angles, made a rather mundane occurrence, intense at times, huge praise goes to it's backgrounding artwork as it was utterly gorgeous at the best of times (mainly outside the school). The character designs at best are typical at best and has rare times when it bring sup slightly lower quality facial features, nonetheless. The animation quality was overall consistent and of high quality and seriously, the backgrounding needs that special mention and a huge highlight to Orange.
During the final 2 episodes of Orange, it FINALLY changed perspective to Kakeru and like LA said in LA's romance section we get to see Kakeru's perspective and it was refreshing and very dramatic and really made us feel his "sins" he's cause onto himself which lead him down the road he went to that really started the plot of Orange and seeing this did open LA up to Kakeru as a character, romantically his involvement was annoying, as a character, it's one of the best developments as a character and a very depressing one at that. The "one hour long finale" of Orange however quite frankly utterly redeemed Orange from all the flaws Orange had compounded through the course of it's runtime by making the ending both give an intense dramatic climax and a great payoff (as well as redeeming Kakeru both in plot and as a character for LA). The ending honed into it's sole focus of Kakeru and the MAIN POINT of Orange and LA thinks that the "one hour finale" was utterly needed to make this happen and LA praise Orange for this ending. it did EVERYTHING right to make this ending satisfying and dramatic with the right tone, not much else to say but that.
Orange has it's annoying character and plot flaws and LA nearly lost interest in Orange when they started focusing too much on the central theme and messages shoving it in our faces, the time travel element is a plot device than actually part of the plot and is more focused on it's dramatic and melodramatic events to crank up the character development or relationship problems and Orange even jumped the shark at one point which completely baffled LA. Orange as an anime is a great drama anime and LA acknowledges this, but LA also sees the flaws it has and LA just can't ignore it due to how prevalent they are especially in the later half however there has never been a time but to put this statement to work but "the ending must be paramount" and it succeeded in doing so utterly making LA accept the flaws of Orange and still see Orange as a GREAT anime.
LA wouldn't might seeing Orange but with it's perspective on Suwa as that would be VERY interesting to see...*cough* *cough*.
The quote at the top of this review, "Life comes in twists and turns" might as well be applied to how LA felt about Orange as well!. Great job Orange, you REALLY pulled through by the end to deliver a GREAT anime...melodrama and all.
You know, I thought I was immune to being disappointed by anime at this point of my life, but apparently the medium still hasn't lost it when it comes to getting my hopes up, only to crash them back down with more impact than Icarus hitting the ocean after he flew too close to the sun. I mean obviously I'm not a fan of the manga having never read it, but Orange really looked promising based on the limited research I did. A shoujo romance that was only five volumes long and critical acclaims across the board with a premise that goes beyond the usual
shoujo tropes found in...well...pick any shoujo anime or live-action drama that got made in the last few years? Sounds like my cup of tea, especially since it deals with suicide: an issue that is still very prevalent in Japan as well as the basis for several very good fictional works from the country.
The start was pretty good as well. Nothing amazing, but at least you understand where it's going by the time the premiere ends. Orange is a show about a young girl named Naho, who starts receiving mysterious letters from her future self regarding a new kid named Kakeru - and because there'd be no plot otherwise, said letters don't specify that if she and her friends invite him for a night out on the town, they'll inadvertently cause his mother to commit suicide. So his mom dies and the letters start to warn Naho that she'll fall in love with the dude whilst warning that he ends up committing suicide in the future, meaning that it's up to her and the Scooby-Doo gang that always seem to be in shoujo romances to save him. Throughout this journey, we occasionally cut to the future timeline where Naho and her friends reminisce about the dude and the regrets they had in regards to saving him, leading up to the moment when they discover the ability to send letters to the past. So here we've got a typical shoujo romance flavored by themes of regret, second-chances, and highschool problems that are more grounded in reality than most anime showcase, in addition to all the suicide stuff. And at the very start of the series too. Sounds great, right?
Well it's not like Orange didn't have problems at the very start either. It is still a shoujo romance anime, so of course that means an insecure female lead and lot of annoying will they or won't they situations, not exactly helped by the fact that we see in the future that Naho married the other male friend, Suwa. And shortly through the show, you'd definitely be supporting that side, because like most male protagonists in this genre, Kakeru is more of a cipher than an actual character. Most of his story is told through the other characters' observations of him without any real input on his end, and while none of the characters really transcend their stereotypes either, we at least are able to understand where most of them come from and why they act the way they do. Which is kind of impressive in of itself given how the other half of the main six are completely unimportant to the plot to the point, even by the usual standards of ensemble romances. The only thing they ever do is encourage the main trio or prevent contrived problems from occurring when they decide they want to have a go at making things more lively, and even when a later plot twist gets them more involved, they still come off as supplementary as those three non-plot important girls in a visual novel adaptation.
The show mostly gets through the cockblock padding by having a bit of self-awareness regarding how stupid it is whilst also highlighting some legitimate teenage issues in the process. Okay, it's no John Hughes film, but at least it raises some interesting points regarding how there's a difference between knowing what's going to happen and actually doing something about it, along with guilt when you discover that you're an accessory to someone else's problems. I was always a bit iffy on the whole love triangle thing that happened when Kakeru ended up dating a female senpai who is - and let's be reasonable about this - a massive cunt, though. Yeah, I don't like using that c-word, but there's really no better way to encompass how completely unlikable she is. While the idea that Kakeru just dated her for her looks was kinda cool, she never gives up on him even after they break up, always showing up out of nowhere to give Naho a hard time whilst having no personality traits or story importance beyond her cunty nature. I don't even think she's very pretty. If I was given the same hypnotism Jack Black got in Shallow Hal, I'm pretty sure I'd see her as a gray-haired hunchback with broken teeth and a trick foot.
But of course, nothing is perfect, and I can get past some bullying if the overall story is good, even if it's a cliche I'm never going to accept in fiction. Unfortunately, as seems to be the running theme for 2016 anime in general, you should never believe a good anime will stay good until the very end. And dear god, did Orange stop being good really fast around the halfway point. TMS Entertainment had put out four shows that very season, so of course I knew that they were spreading themselves a little thin, but that did not initially come through with this show at the very start, because it had some pretty kickass visual direction to the point that you wondered how they were going to keep it up for an entire season. The short answer is they don't, and they seemed to have dragged down the storytelling quality along with it. There's a school festival arc in the second half of the show that only exists as buildup for the sake of buildup, making the characters have fun with each other so that the "save Kakeru" flag will get triggered. It's like how the first movie of that new Harry Potter spinoff series consisted of nothing but introducing the characters and the rules of the world whilst saving all the meaty stuff that's not guaranteed to deliver for the sequel.
Someone please explain to me the appeal of watching setup to a major plot direction when you don't have anything to support it but curiosity regarding the future and likable characters, because I don't see it. It's completely boring, and even if the curiosity is enough to carry you the first time, it's not going to be around on rewatch, leaving you with absolutely nothing. No amount of likability is going to help a character if they're not given anything interesting to do. Most people with a soul love the cast in animated Disney movies, but most people with a brain wouldn't call those direct-to-DVD sequels good. And the less said about Kingdom Hearts until I inevitably review one of the upcoming games, the better.
What's really funny is that despite the artificial lengthening and worsening production values later on, the final episode ended up going double-length, which makes me wonder what the point of it all was. You could have easily cut out twenty two minutes of fluff, split the finale into two weekly chunks, and just run with that. I don't keep up with anime news so I couldn't say for sure, but it feels like there were some creative differences halfway through production and the anime we ended up getting was the result of a bunch of bitter compromises. You know, kind of like what Kare Kano went through when Anno was booted off the set, only not nearly as unique and definitely not something that would fly by today's standards. Oh, and you want to know how the show actually ends? Well I hate to spoil things, but I can't sum up my full opinion on the show without talking about it, so skip the next paragraph if you haven't finished the show yet.
Kakeru ends up realizing that his friends are too important to him to go through with killing himself, he and Naho are still in their "will they or won't they" phase, the future characters smile at the thought of a changed past that they'll never feel the results of, and all I could think was "wow that was lame". Why is friendship and love always the goddamn solution to these sorts of serious issues in anime-land? Yes it's important for depressed people to be surrounded by folks who care about them, but there's more to suicide prevention than that. When you have it on its own rather than just as a tool, it's basically nothing more than a psychology student who failed to get his degree trying to make it into the storytelling business. Most medical professionals would be clueless regarding how to deal with Kakeru, and Orange handles his situation with such a simplistically optimistic tone that not only is the solution bullshit, but we don't really get much of an insight into Kakeru's psychology either. All the shoujo cliches kept getting in the way, trying so hard to lighten up the substance that it ended up forgetting the substance even existed in the process. And everything the characters say or do is too obvious, so that when the substance is empty, their actions are even emptier. No, this show isn't exactly Welcome to the NHK or Aku no Hana, is it?
Orange never really got to the point where I'd consider it an amazing show, but it still saddened me to finish it because of how close it came to transcending its genre at times, only to gets its kneecaps shot off ant a moment when it really couldn't afford to be put on life support. The animation went to shit, ruining key emotional moments to the point that the characters might as well have been wearing clown masks the entire time. The suicide themes devolved into generic go-nowhere shoujo cliches and fucking retarded "as long as you have friends, you shouldn't throw away your life" PSA bullshit. And the time travel stuff ended up being another pointless gimmick that exists for the plot to function a certain way without getting any real acknowledgement until the very end, and of course it's done in a saccharine way that I don't even want to elaborate on. Just trust me when I say that ERASED's usage of it wasn't as conveniently contrived and let's call it a day, shall we?
Detestable main character drives a ridiculous/boring plot through her constant ineptitude and mistakes. She embodies the "shy purest of maidens" stereotype so the two main male characters fall in love with her when what she really deserves is a stern talking to.
One of the main characters suffers from depression so the rest of the characters try to fix him by being overbearing.
There are a few moments here and there when the show isn't terrible but the characters and plot are so badly thought out I can't believe anybody wrote it, or bought it, or decided to make an anime out of it. And now we
have a film coming? It's almost as ridiculous as Trump and Clinton being the only two candidates for president.
Orange strikes me as a typical over-dramatic romance Shoujo with a bit of spicy added to it.
Orange starts off a bit different when comparing it to other Shoujos. One evening, our MC Naho gets a letter with information written to herself from her future self. The letter contains the exact events of the day, including the fact that there will be a new transfer student in her class. The Naho of the future gives the present Naho plenty of instructions on what to do, so that she will have no regrets.
My first problem begins with the time traveling aspect. If the future is
ever-changing, then eventually the letters will cease to be helpful. When that happens what will stop Naho from making different mistakes? While the time traveling mechanic was explained, it was done poorly with very obvious info dumping.
Outside of the letters, this show is your typical run of the mil Shoujo. The main character does a ton of silly mistakes in an attempt to hide her love for the edgy new student. Nothing new at all, but what really bothers me is that someone else already loves her. You can tell by the very first episode. Suwa (the other guy) seems to be very aware of Naho's feelings for the new transfer student. So in words he is willing to be the rebound guy for the main character, which is just really shitty in my opinion.
My second main problem is how everything seems forced. Nothing in the show feels truly organic, rather everything feels like a poorly placed contrivance. Examples of questions I had about the plot:
1. Why does Naho not ask her friends for help?
2. Why didn’t the future gang just write a detailed letter together and then copy it over?
3. Why does Suwa pickup on Naho’s emotions the fastest?
4. What ever happen to “girl-talk”? Like seriously there’s two other girls.
And there are many more as the story continues. I will not list anymore as they do spoil part of the series. It’s like the story tries up the ante of its melodramatic aspects every episode. Outside of the plot conveniences, the story is way too slow. Every episode contains too much empty space, which leads to an overly boring tone. I honestly wished more things would happen, but most episodes contain nothing but Naho monologuing to herself.
Now you would think that for a dialogue heavy show, that this would be its selling point. This is not the case. Most of the dialogue feels awkward or forced. The awkwardness typically stems from the joke. Most of the jokes don’t seem that funny, yet the cast still laughs at the jokes. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but my guess is that the writer doesn’t understand the younger crowd much. The rest of dialogue is driven by melodrama. Other than that there is not much dialogue. Majority of the series is spent on Naho’s monologues.
“The pain in my foot will go away eventually. But the regret won't.”- Takamiya Naho
Most of the characters are very typical and 1 dimensional. Suwa seems to be the only fleshed out and organic feeling character of the series. The rest are bland one hit wonders. At first they seem likable, but eventually they begin to become annoying.
Suwa: Suwa, a natural born leader, acts as the ringleader of their little group. He is very tall, outgoing, handsome and good at sports. He puts others before himself and doesn't seem selfish or petty whatsoever. Overall he’s a great guy, so I’m not sure why Naho doesn't like him. He clearly likes Naho from the very first episode, but also knows her feelings for Naruse. Most of his development happens slowly throughout the series. He makes for an awesome character, but unfortunately he is placed within a bad series.
Naruse: Naruse is just the edgy new boy that the main girl falls for. The writers seem bend on creating a scenario, where we feel obligated to pity him. His relationship with his mother seems completely contrived for plot convenience, and he acts completely depressed the entire time. Depression creates a very atmosphere when done correctly; however, the subtlety of depression is lost in this series.
Naho: She is the main character of the series. She’s your typical Mary-sue with nothing that sets her apart from the dozens of other main character within the Shoujo genre. She is painfully stupid to any situation at hand. You can easily count her talents on one hand, and overall she feels bland and unimportant (despite being the MC of the series).
Hagita: The nerdy friend who’s kinda funny. In all honestly it is easy to forget he exist within the series sometimes. He lightens the mood usually, but overall he gains no character development.
Taka: The tomboy of the group. She's honestly just a tomboy.
Azu: The short girl of group. She brings them bread, and laughs a lot when nothing is funny. She seems to have a crush on Hagita.
AUDIO & VISUAL
The animation overall is decent. There are a lot of random cut angles and horrible freeze frames. The director sticks to the typical shojo directing style (lots of randomly panning and jump scenes). The character designs seem uninspiring, but overall the animation is the best part of this show.
The music is bland and very forgettable. The opening seems very fitting; however, the ending track carry over a melancholy feeling. Outside of the opening, the OST does not make much an impact either.
Regret is a powerful thing, but only when used correctly. If characters fail to move pass their arctypes, then it renders the theme of regret useless. Even when we approach the end, it feels like the series accomplishes nothing. It fails to show the future that many wanted and leaves the audience with a blank and questionable ending. Overall you would be better off watching something like Ano Hana or My Little Monster. Both of those series handle their story, characters and plot much better.
Orange is a nice anime. If you're looking for an anime that's fast-paced, comedic and unpredictable, then you should definitely look elsewhere, but that, in no way, means that this anime is bad.
Orange is a simple, slow paced high school drama, but, unlike many others of it's kind, it remains realistic. Of course, these are still teenagers, so it isn't unlikely for the viewer to get frustrated by a few actions (or lack there of) caused by misunderstandings and teenage insecurity, but the drama makes good use of these moments for character growth and other such things.
Orange is an anime makes you feel all
sorts of emotions, good and bad, while managing to finish its story nicely. If you're looking for an anime that makes you feel and ponder, then I think Orange would be a good choice for you.
What if one day you recieved information about a certain tragic event that will take place in the future, you know it's gonna happen..how are you gonna change it? what if something you do only makes it worse? what if changing it affects someone else? there is no way to know for sure, you never what could happen unless you act...maybe that's why the show is called "Orange" (?) you know it has a taste but it is unpredictable, it could sweet,sour..you never know unless you take a bite. I don't know, I could very well be wrong here.
This is story of "Orange", One morning
Naho recieves a letter from her future self warning her about her own regrets and requesting her to fix those regrets and save Kakeru. So can Naho save Kakeru? It's all there in the letter, right? shouldn't it be easy? No, saving this guy is a more complex and monumental task than it sounds.
There are many things I really appreciate about this show. It's boldness to use Time elements and keeping the science fiction to a minimum and just concentrate on lighthearted storytelling. The story is simple and built on very good character development. Each episode focuses on Naho trying to erase or avoid regrets, which is very interesting to watch. It's starts off really well and first 6 episodes are really really good, after that it somewhat didn't feel right, the quality in animation started to drop and dialouge was a little cringy. But that was only for a couple of episodes, it just felt like *what is so great about this show?* and then it slowly became better and the greatness kicks in, in the second last episode and the 40 minute finale was nothing short of absolute brilliance. A masterpiece in writing,dialouge and development. The Animation in this episode is sublime as well, maybe the okayish animation in the middle was just the studio saving up for this one. The story revolves around a small group of characters who are unique and relatable and they're fun to watch.
But what i really appreciate about this show is *may contain very minor spoilers* how they display the trauma of a person who has suicidal thoughts, They create an atmosphere and show you what it feels like to be that person, putting us in those final moments and showings us their final thoughts before dying, those scenes are just beyond terrifying and give you the chills. I can't describe how well done that is, Hats off to the writer for that!
It does have some minor flaws, like i mentioned earlier the animation screwed up a little, some scenes are overly melodramatic and cringy. the biggest problem i have is how they send the letters, *may contain very minor spoilers* five regular people sending letters through a Black hole is hard to buy, they just gave us that infodump than anything in detail. maybe they'll cover that in the upcoming movie but I can judge only based on what they've given us.
with that being said, i would give my final rating to show with an Overall score of
which makes "Orange" my anime of the season: Summer (2016)
"Orange" is an amazing show that overcomes it's flaws with it's brilliant writing and development, Definitely a show to check out, especially for those who are a fan of slice of life and romance.
Often times, the shoujo genre focuses a lot on the romance, relationships, and drama. Orange doesn’t exactly stray from that either considering romance is part of the show. However, the series adds a bit more of a twist in the form of time travel. You heard right. Time travel. It’s a plot element used in the series to forge the overall story as we see how events of the past really can affect events in the future.
Adapted from the manga of the same name, this series seemed overdue given the context and something that can easily fit within the anime medium. It has already received
a drama adaptation so an anime was expected. As a manga reader, I am thankful that the adaptation is mostly faithful. There’s honestly not many chapters anyway so a 1-cour length show (13 episodes) fits well. But does Orange really live up to expectations? That’s the bigger question.
The premise is exactly how it plays out. From the beginning, it’s obvious that Naho has a crush on Kakeru and she shows it early on with many hints. However, what really happens will make the audience realize how there’s future events that takes place with the main cast. Futuristic segments are shown from the first episode of characters in their adult ages. Furthermore, it’s implied that a tragic event happens in the future that affects the lives of the characters in the present timeline forever. After all, everyone has regrets or wish they can take back a decision they once made before. This actually gives the characters a more miserable hope for the future. As they know that Kakeru suffered a tragedy, they feel sorrow will strike in their lives as well. Meanwhile, the show does a fairly well job at getting the story flowing from the start. Indeed, Orange uses time travel gimmicks as a way of storytelling. Naho receives a letter from her future self and in it, it predicts everything she experiences on that particular day. The latter not only contain details about the future but also the fate of Kakeru, something that will tragically end his life.
As you can see, the story itself feels like a time travel plot similar to Steins;Gate or Erased. However, that’s also not entirely on point as Orange has its own principles that strays far from just a sci-fi series. At its core, the show is a drama tale. It chronicles the lives of characters with the most prominent ones being Naho and Kakeru. Of course, they have friends as well and it’s easy to recognize their meaningful values. What makes Orange really special is perhaps the many themes found in the show. There’s social alienation, regret, doubt, friendship, love, fate, and trust, just to name a few. In addition, the series takes daily social problems to bring the realism out at its best. Remember that time when you had a crush on someone but just couldn’t find the right time to confess? Or being in a love triangle but wishes for the best for your friend rather than yourself? That’s the type of realism that I think we can all relate. Similarly, Orange takes love triangles to explore relationships between certain characters. The most prominent in the series is between Naho, Kakeru, and Suwa. There is obvious attraction between Naho and Kakeru although Suwa also harbors hidden feelings for Naho, something that she hardly recognizes. However, because of circumstances, Naho often is hesitant to act on her own feelings.
The title of the show is Orange, which is actually the flavor of the first juice that Kakeru bought for Naho. In a way, it’s symbolic for her own love for him as she describes her crush as being “bittersweet”. From my perspective, the love relationship between Kakeru and Naho does have a bittersweet feel to it. The letters brings doubt for Naho as she fears about Kakeru’s fate. Not only that, but her friends also share that fear, the fear that they may not be able to save Kakeru. The show often teases around with how the characters attempt to fight against fate with the knowledge from the letters. However, time paradox has its role as well as they learn how difficult it is to change the future. Not being able to save someone’s life may be considered one’s greatest regret after all. Do note that the show explores sensitive topics such as suicide as well and in later episodes, we learn how dark the plot can be from a realistic point of view.
As the manga is concluded, the anime itself adapts the majority of the anime and in essence, it satisfies a complete adaptation. This will give a sigh of relief for both anime original viewer and manga readers. In addition, character personalities are mostly on par what expectations. Naho, Kakeru, Hagita, Azusa, Takako, and Suwa all represent what high school teenagers are like of their age. They have social lives and strives to build relationships with others to make them happy including themselves. However, I would say that Orange’s romance dynamics aren’t exactly worth praising. For instance, there’s the stereotypical girl outside of the main circle that gets into the main female protagonist’s way. I’m talking about the type that acts like a bully towards their love rival to make them feel as miserable as possible. Being the kind person that she is, Naho often struggles to stand up for herself so others have to step in. And my goodness, some of those moments are difficult to watch. In addition, the slow pacing of the story with its romance development feels scarce and will really test the patience of the viewers. Finally, the romance teasing between other characters such as Hagita and Azusa almost feels like comic relief, especially compared to Naho and Kakeru.
Where Orange shines in storytelling and characters, its animation isn’t always delivering its expectations. It’s adapted by a studio cooperation between Telecom Animation Film and TMS Entertainment. While early episodes didn’t have much problem with its quality, some of the latter episodes seems to lack budget especially with the still frames and awkward character faces. I do have to admit though, Orange’s animation style has a matching way with its realism. The slow moving pacing fits well in conjunction with body movements and in particular, it expresses character reactions quite realistically from many angles.
For a show like Orange, the soundtrack is also very important because many segments can be quite emotional. In this case, the lighthearted OST works well to give the show its atmospheric feel. The OP and ED theme songs are harmonious with bittersweet rhythms. Still, the real praise should be given to the voice actors and actresses. Kana Hanazawa deserves some particular praise with her role as Naho. After all, she is an emotional girl and it’s not always easy to step into the shoes of such a character.
By the time I finished Orange, I breathed in and out. It’s a sigh of “damn, it’s over now?” Of course, being an 1-cour adaptation that doesn’t need to be any shorter or longer. Any more of that would honestly hold back or overextend the show. That being said, Orange explores many social problems that we can find realiable in our lives. The high school days are an era that most of us have experienced and it’s something valuable to treasure. For Naho and her friends, it’s an era where they make the most of it for themselves and trying to do a good deed. While most shows seems to rely on cliché time travel gimmicks to attract an audience, Orange goes beyond that combines its themes with the story. That story is like a treasure and I’m glad it was an experience that is more than bittersweet.
In a world where tragedy happens, do you think you could change it?
The final episode was just released so I wanted to write a review while it was still fresh in my mind. I should also note that this is my first review.
Lets get right into the story. Orange, in my opinion, is much more than a typical romance, high school drama. It tackles the touchy subject of death, and how it can effect even the smallest thing. From the beginning you learn that something tragic happens in the future, so with this in mind you are rooting for the MC (Naho) the entire time,
wanting her to succeed in fulfilling her future self's wishes via a letter. Now, I know that can sound confusing but this is all mentioned in the first episode, and this anime is not hard to fallow. In all i give the story an (8).
Getting into the characters. I give this a ranking of an (8) because some characters where more developed than others. For example you truly only care about 3 of the 6 MC's because the other 3 seem to just be there for support. honestly I don't even remember the black haired girls name -_-. But, I did enjoy an anime for once where the characters didn't over react over every little thing, they just seemed like normal teenagers. (Also, I thought hagita's personality was hilarious.)
I thought the art was pretty, nice and bright colors that fit the mood. Also, something good this anime had going for it was the characters faces. They defined their lips, which is rare in most anime, which helped in the characters expressions. It kinda reminded me of the art in Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. (9)
Sound was good, nothing more to say (9)
So, in conclusion I gave this anime an (8) simply because I enjoyed it. I recommend that you watch this if you like crying, laughing, or even getting a little mad all in one episode. And I will say that I was satisfied with the ending, and was left smiling.
Everyone has the desire to turn back time to do things that they should have done instead. The future self filled with regret vs. the present self filled with ignorance. What happens when the two collide? Enter the story of Orange, presented as a romance drama with a time-travel twist yet it finds a good balance between them.
The story starts out with Naho receiving a letter from herself 10 years in the future. It details about the incoming arrival of Kakeru in her life and how she must save him because he’ll die in the future. What I like about this predicament is that Naho
doesn’t always follow what the letter asks her to do all the time. It might be from suspension of disbelief or just awkwardness but it shows that she isn’t just a plot device following orders. She shows doubt despite the fact that what is stated in the letter comes into reality which is a nice way of showing an internal struggle. There is the problem of the ever changing future and it’s good that she doesn’t entirely depend on the letters for her to save Kakeru. Overall there is a constant struggle between the present self who wants to do it on her own terms and the future self who wants to do it strictly in a sequence of events ensuring that there will be a change of outcome. Other characters in the story include Suwa, Hagita, Takako, and Azu. While some of them could really use some character development and more significance story-wise, they have stand out personalities that adds life to the show. They even somewhat contribute to the story later on as the story also deals with friendship and their unified feelings toward Kakeru.
Now, Kakeru seems to be too reserved for a character to have a story revolve around him. He acts like everything’s okay but he hides a lot of suppressed thoughts. I do like the idea since it’s a good way for the characters to unveil him but every time someone like Naho attempts it, he just pushes the person back. He eventually opens up later on but the process can be frustrating. He’s like a walking fragile plot device that one mistake done on him can ultimately lead to his inevitable death. Monologues are dedicated to him but they always seem to be not too revealing despite being full of resentment. With every revelation, it’s like there is more to it and the bigger picture is really sought after. I know the story doesn’t want to give it all away immediately but it’s like a dripping faucet gradually being opened.
And we get to the time-travel aspect of the show. I know that some are turned off with the explanation how they managed to send letters to the past but I personally don’t give it too much attention. Sure it can make or break shows that explore time-manipulation but for a show that deals with second chances while still being conscious of the consequence of changing the future, I can look over it.
Overall, Orange is a show recommended to viewers who can deeply connect with its theme of regret. The romance and drama revolving around it can be inconsistent at times due to its sporadic change of events but it all leads to a fulfilling conclusion. Hidden amidst a world of bright colors are bleak thoughts that await catharsis, it’s a story about love and friendship.
There's a saying that "first impression is important" and for me, the author did a really good job in giving this anime a good first impression to it's viewers. It's almost impossible not to be intrigue with the story and not be curious about 'what will happen next, what happened to kakeru?, what will happen to him, Naho and the rest?, will they be able to save him? how are they going to save him? will the future the change? what will happen if they keep changing the past? - These are the questions that will definitely be
stuck in your head while watching the anime and the very same reason that will make you look forward for what will happen next.
I like how the story look so mysterious and intriguing at the start of the series and how things are unfold little by little. I also like how they portrayed things about depression and people with suicidal thoughts like Kakeru. Some may say that Kakeru should get help from "professionals" and that Naho and her friends shouldn't take the responsibility in helping Kakeru - this is right, however.. there are times that even those who seek professional help doesn't really healed and so they still end up killing themselves or do something even worst. So the most important thing is to have people who can support you, people who will be there for you no matter what, people whom you can trust, people who will help you without ever judging you, people who will make you feel loved and most of all "the determination to help yourself" - this for me is what the story really wanted to show with the way the past Kakeru was treated and how he didn't had any motivation to help himself and how the present Kakeru was saved by his friends which gave him the motivation to keep on living.
I am really disappointed with how the anime look.. especially the way they drew the characters. There were times when the characters look TOO OLD for high schoolers.
The opening and ending theme are just okay, they are not the type of music/songs that will make me want to listen to them again. There are also times when the background music doesn't suit well for the scene.
Kakeru: the anime did a good job in portraying a person with severe depression and suicidal thoughts with Kakeru's character. Sometimes, when we hear that someone we knew committed a suicide, we couldn't help but wonder "what made them kill themselves? why did they not asked for help? why did they not tell anyone? how come no one around them noticed that something is wrong? how come no one helped them? The look fine and happy..so why did they do that? - at least Kakeru will help you understand.
Naho: There were times when I couldn't help but feel annoyed and frustrated because of Naho (not because she failed to do what the letter asked her to do since that is not an easy task) but I was frustrated at how weak she was at times and how she just let people do what they want with her without ever fighting back and just sit around the corner cry and wait for her friends to help her. But at least she grew up to become a strong girl, strong enough to support Kakeru.
Suwa: I couldn't help but feel sorry for him. The Suwa from the future and the present Suwa. For me, his regret is as big or even bigger than the regret and guilt that the future Naho is carrying. Although I also don't agree that he sacrificed his future child in order to save Kakeru, I still want to see him happy. I just really wish that we can see what happened to him after Kakeru was saved.
Although the parallel world is not really that realistic and there are things that I don't agree with and even though I am disappointed with the artwork, it's still worth watching.
"It felt as if watching Usain Bolt running a marathon"
The anime which had the potential to be a masterpiece of a shoujo anime in a short run, but instead tried to become too dragged out and everything just fell apart. Much like how Usain Bolt would start to slow down and stumble during such a long run.
|contains minor spoilers which are indicated beforehand|
Orange could have been such a great story. It uses great story-telling mechanics to build up the story and give the characters the opportunity to evolve and grow. But instead of building off of the foundation it set for itself, it just walks
away from it.
Right from the beginning, we see how cleverly the creators of Orange slowly unveil the mysteries regarding the "future" and the letter. Initially, they have a great pace, and everything looks perfect for a good anime. We have a great mystery, with decent starting characters and a clear end-goal.
Unfortunately, after the initial setup, the anime just slows down ridiculously and tries to drag out everything and this just totally wrecks almost every aspect of this anime as they try to waste time. Let's look at those in a little bit more in detail.
The romance line just gets shattered, as they try to find at first irrational reasons and later on just straight up illogical reasons to drag out the way to the romance of Kakeru and Naho. The whole plot/story would only need one event to really happen to finally progress/finish, but they just keep on delaying it. In order to do so, they use multiple cliches, unneeded drama and conflicts which just become too plain and cringe after awhile. (SPOILER: Naho being unable to do literally anything on multiple occasions and being just so incredibly slow to help the plot develop)
To say something really positive, the anime uses very clever techniques to create opportunists. For example, the use of letter is brilliant. The way they use it really gives a chance to evolve the characters.(SPOILER: in the beginning it gives specific orders, after awhile it only says the goal and leaves the execution to Naho). It has great plot twists and has multiple huge reveals that can be shocking to the viewer as well as giving a chance to the side characters to shine (SPOILER: for example the reveal of multiple letters, and the very end twist). Not to mention a great use of time perspective shifting which really could have helped the anime in terms of expanding the depth of characters (which Orange didn't really utilize in the end...)
If only the story could have been condensed more, avoiding the unnecessary time wasting, then the story could have been intriguing, with a great story telling and amazing twists.
Story - 5
Most characters are quite one layered and basic stereotypes at the beginning, but that's absolutely fine for starters. The problem is, that most of them never really evolve into something more deep. The only good character was Suwa. Throughout his relationship with Naho, he really becomes someone else than what he started with, sharing great thoughts throughout the anime.
On the other hand, main characters like Naho, were just handled terribly. This mostly comes down to the issue that the creators wanted to waste time. This totally wrecked Naho's character. To begin with, she was already one of the densest of the densest, not to mention that it would be an understatement that she is shy. The Plot techniques used set her up to really get a character development (SPOLER in the beginning she relies on the letter, but later on she tries to become herself and pave her own path instead of being a "puppet"), but because that would solve the main plot problem, they just find excuses and leave her (SPOLER: she then fails and goes back to the letter and remains a "puppet"). Not to mention that she literally cannot do anything on her own and always relied on her friends and that didn't change at all, not even once. The last straw was when she actually became worse than the initial character (SPOILER: When she tells Kakeru to stay with her and abandon his granny, which was literally her telling him that she doesn't care about his feelings. Way worse than what she said in the other world).
Character Score - 6
The art style is quite different than most other animes. It's a lot more clearer and the lineart is more visible and sharp. It all comes down to preferences, but it was actually quite refreshing to see this type of art. The animation overall for fairly smooth and consistent.
Art Score - 8
The voice acting was very good. It felt realistic, and i could feel the characters behind them. Each individual had their own speaking style which was a nice touch.
Sound Score - 7
All in all, this anime really could have been great if it didn't sacrifice characters, cliches and good moments only to get to that 13 episode number. Although in it's current form it's not easy to recommend it, but if we discard those useless parts earlier described, then we get one of the best shoujo anime. If you like some good and tense drama that really gets you on the edge of your seat, then this is for you.
Overall Score - 6 (but could very easily be 9 if you put up with the frustrating parts)
|Subjective review (rant)| (SPOILERS)
I was so frustrated with how they handled the romance, dramas and the main couple. Because i saw so many textbook usages of conflicts (in the beginning) and symbols (the letters or the hairpin). You will be able to read up in more details about the story-telling techniques in Orange.
Subjective Score - Want to give it a 9 but have to settle with a 5
So for the past three months or so, I have been watching Orange every Sunday. At first, it was an enjoyable experience- bittersweet- like the plot intends for it to be. After Episode 5 or 6, however, things begin to take a weird turn. You see, I read the manga a few months before the anime started airing because I wanted to see the story unfold in its original creative form and enjoy the characters, plot, etc, just in case the anime adaptation ruined it.
In a way, yes.
~~ Story (8/10): ~~
As far as the story goes, it stays the same as the
manga. Five high schoolers: Naho Takamiya, Hiroto Suwa, Azusa Murasaka, Takako Chino and Saku Hagita receive letters from addressed to them and it turns out that they come from themselves ten years in the future. They are told to save their new friend Kakeru Naruse who is, in fact, no longer with them in ten years time.
The anime followed the manga very closely and I saw hardly any original content which I can really appreciate when adaptations are made. If you like romance that's kind of similar to Ao Haru Ride then look no further, this one is for you. Orange also has supernatural elements to it, dealing with parallel universes and such. This kind of genre has been done to death so far in 2016, but it's a bit of a fresh perspective.
~~ Art (7/10): ~~
The quality of art and animation throughout all 13 episodes is quite consistent. In a few episodes, the detail can be quite poor due to the show's budget and whatnot, but apart from that, there's nothing too noticeable. The art is very nice to look at.
Half-way through the series, there are one or two episodes that serve as comedy relief in a way. In these two episodes, there are facial expressions drawn onto the characters that you DO NOT see in the manga. These faces are the kind of over-exaggerated faces you'd see in a comedy anime or something. Orange is not a comedy, although there are comedic moments here and there (mostly involving Suwa and Hagita), the facial expressions made in these episodes can be very offputting. That is the only warning I can possibly give you.
~~ Sound (9/10): ~~
The voice acting is brilliant and there are some top-quality seiyuu's involved in this show. Kana Hanazawa voices Naho and does a brilliant job, Makoto Furukawa voices Suwa and consistently pulls off his masculine, upbeat voice and as for Kakeru, well, he sounded like your average male MC so I can't comment much. I'll cut his seiyuu some slack though as he hasn't been in the industry for very long. The soundtrack, composed by Hiroaki Tsutsumi, is beautiful. The sad tracks are a delight to listen to and all the other tracks are excellent too. He also worked on Ao Haru Ride, which is probably why I relate the two shows so much.
~~ Characters (6/10): ~~
If there's one thing the anime adaptation does wrong, it's the character development. In one group, all six characters shine in one way or another. However, if you separate them and make them individuals then they have no interesting qualities whatsoever. Kakeru is the bland male MC who has depression, Naho is dense, even more, bland female MC who has a crush on Kakeru but won't ever say anything about it, Azusa is a happy-go-lucky gal who goes as a double act with Takako. Takako? She gets no attention whatsoever. Hagita is the low-key otaku nerd of the group who is often teased about something. The only character I can give praise for is Suwa because of his undying dedication to the instructions in the letters, his genuine friendship towards the others and his general, all-around likeableness.
But yeah, this adaptation does a good job of making Naho even more romantically retarded than she is in the manga, and they take Kakeru's jerkiness a step too far.
~~ Enjoyment (7/10): ~~
I had fun watching this show. At times, the build-up of tension and feels works to more effect than the manga did, but most of the time it didn't. If you really want to enjoy the story for what it is then I highly recommend you go and read the manga, penned by Takano Ichigo. I didn't love it, I didn't hate it, and I'll probably forget most of it in a year's time.
I'll never forget Suwa though.
Suicide and other mental conditions like it are a difficult subject to comprehend when you aren't the person who is having the thought or desire to kill yourself thinking that the world would be better off if your existence was wiped from it. It's something that many people face and it becomes a difficult barrier to overcome when one doesn't have someone there to try and help. So, we have Orange, a...confusing series that despite having such themes and a plotline revolving around it, doesn't actually do it very well.
Story: Takamiya Naho one day finds a strange letter addressed to her in her
desk that details a set of events involving a new student at her school named Naruse Kakeru. Initially thinking that the letter is more or less full of sh*t, she finds out that the events in the letter apparently written from her 10 years into the future are starting to come true, finding out that if the events in the letter come to fruition, Kakeru will die.
So, as you can guess, the entire story of Orange revolves around the main cast of the series attempting to help Kakeru with his problems and stop him from his probably stoppable demise. On paper, the series has a pretty solid plotline, but...that's not really the case.
The first and probably most glaring problem that I find is the fact that the series relies far too heavily on the 'letter' concept. The show did nothing wrong with trying to make a future/past story to try to avoid a calamity, as many time-travel related stories do, but the characters and the story relate and go back to the letters and what's in the letters so many times that none, and I mean none of the characters that want to save this poor boy actually have any proper character traits aside from maybe a few base ones. None of the characters really feel like they're actually attempting to solve the problem themselves and grow as characters, but instead rely on a tutorial letter cheat sheet in order to move the plot along. They're just following what the letters say, and the show mentions that a lot too with the characters' dialogue, resulting in faux character development and a story that feels less than genuine.
The other problem that I see is the fact that the story never seems to decide what it wants to be. It's like a...rom-com/emotional rollercoaster/time traveling paradox story that really doesn't work out too well. The romance is kind of irritating, especially with the characters in play, and the time-traveling part was probably the most unneeded part of the series. Orange goes out of its way to actually try and explain how the letters got to their past selves and it's just...no. Of course that would've left a plot hole if they didn't try and explain it, but I feel like that's better than dragging in the Bermuda Triangle or Parallel World Theory into this story. (Yes, they actually do reference those things.)
The only worthwhile thing that I would say that this series has is regarding the emotional rollercoaster part, which only comes in the second to last episode of the series. Throughout the show, you don't get much about Kakeru and his regrets up until that point, at which point you get hit full force in some actually informative and well-written story and character. It's a shame we didn't get more story of that quality because that was probably the only redeemable part of the show in terms of story.
In the end, Orange is rotting tree with only one good fruit hanging down from the top of the tree. Its good qualities is overshadowed by the show's false-feeling nature with how the characters are just doing whatever the letters tell them to without any of their own thought input and the fact that the show tried to do a lot of other things than focus on Kakeru and the problems that he has. Also, the romantic subplots. Goddamn the romantic subplots were annoying.
+ Touches and has good content on the touchy subject of suicide
- Characters don't have any real development to them
- Too many unnecessary subplots
Characters: As a result of the letters, the characters of Orange don't really feel all that well-made. Of course there is some growth to a good chunk of the characters, but the problem also arises from the fact that they didn't grow because they wanted to, they pretty much grew because the plot demanded it.
Takamiya Naho is our main protagonist and by god is she a piece of work. Naho plays off the shy and timid girl from your typical shoujo series. Normally meek and softspoken, the gentle Naho is a creature that the series never seems to know what to do with. On one hand, Naho has this letter that tells her that her new friend/crush is going to die, so she tries to go up and talk to him in order to try and save him from his fate. Then on the other hand, in a scene that's probably in the exact same episode, Naho pulls back and retreats back to her shell without any rhyme or reason as to why. This gap in logic and writing makes Naho probably the most annoying character in the series simply because she only seems to do something worthwhile when the series demands it. She never truly comes out of her shell and whenever she does, it's always because of the damn letter or when the other characters are around.
Then there's Naruse Kakeru, the whole reason why this series pretty much exists. As the new kid in the school, Kakeru is a mysterious and gentle character that hides a lot to himself. Admittedly, I can't really fault Kakeru too much as a character because his actions that of the behavior of someone going through such stages. He feels regret, guilt, and most of all, is reluctant to tell people of his problems, which is sprinkled pretty well in the series up to the last few episodes where they go whole hog as expected of the climax. His push/pull dynamic with his character however does get irritating at times, but it doesn't really come as often as Naho does, yet it still is pretty annoying. My biggest complaint with Kakeru however comes with the fact that the series never fully explains the events that led up to what has made him such a broken and suicidal individual. You get a taste of what, but it just doesn't feel like enough since we never get a full-on backstory of his memories or anything of the sort.
The rest of the main cast are admittedly...not really all that important save for Suwa. Suwa's role in the series is to act as the 'wingman' character who secretly likes the main girl but will never confess cause he's a nice guy, hence why he's nicknamed as the series's "Best Bro" character. Aside from Suwa, however, the other three members of the main cast, Azu, Hagita, and Takako really don't have much of a purpose. They're mostly there to fill up space and make it seem like this cast is a lot bigger than it actually is since they're never focused on in the series and most of the heavy lifting or lifting at all for Kakeru is done by either Suwa or Naho which negates any and all worth that the rest of the cast has. The only noticeable side character is this b*tch senpai who becomes irrelevant post-episode 5 who's only there to create romantic tension/drama that really wasn't even there in the first place. (Also, how dare you make me think of her every time I go back and see anything relating to Merry Nightmare or Tomori Nao. Never gonna unhear that now.)
+ Kakeru being more or less true to that kind of character
- Character development never feels genuine and only plot-related
- Pretty much every character except Naho and Suwa are redundant
Art: Produced by Telecom Animation Film, Orange...admittedly, given how virtually unknown the company is, is just...well to put it bluntly, it's downright ugly. First off, the animation of the whole series has these nightmarish and unnatural character designs, especially in the faces, that make them look more like demons than people. The eyes are unnaturally detailed and have this scary white dot in the middle of them that makes them look demented, and the lip motions, smiles, and overall look of the characters' mouths just don't look right. The female characters are even worse offenders of this because they have much rounder eye designs, which let you see into their ghoulish eyes even more. (Also, close-ups do NOT make this series look any better.)
Another thing that bothers me is how muted the colors are. None of the colors used look remotely half-decent and everything has this gray/brown muted shade to them that makes even the happy colors of yellow and orange look dull and boring. Even better, that's not even the worse thing about the art in this series.
The worst thing I have to say is the series's consistency. The art on very common occasions look lazy with no quality check, and off to the point it feels like a character's eyes were drawn by two separate people trying to draw them at the same time next to each other. This is sprinkled in every now and then especially during zoom outs of the whole cast where eyes are basically uneven lines at that point, but the place that this happens is during the athletic meet episode where the quality tanked so hard that almost every frame of the episode had issues.
- Unnatural-looking art
- Quality control failures
- Terrible color palette
Sound: The sound for Orange is...average, I'd say. The OP "Hikari no Hahen" is pretty nice and has heavy use of the guitar to that both sounds cheerful and melancholic which is a good listen even if the actual song itself isn't really all that memorable. The ED on the other hand is a song that's in a similar style, but it kinda...drolls on to the point that it doesn't even seem worth to listen to. Bad songs? No. Memorable songs? Not really.
On the note of sound though, the voice acting I have to say is...subpar. There's nothing of significance that can be said about the voice acting so...yeah, moving on.
+ Decent tracks?
- Nothing memorable
- Voice acting is average
Personal Enjoyment: Ok, I had high hopes for this series. Admittedly, I was on board with the Orange hype train thinking that this show was going to give us a great story and be a decent watch that I would recommend to people. But boy was I wrong. Ironically, it was the letters, the whole instigator for this series, that was the main culprit to why I think it failed. Because of the letters, none of the characters got any growth to themselves because they always went "Oh, we can refer back to the letters no problem and the letters have all of the answers we need" rather than try and actively change the future without using some writing on paper-ex-machina to drive the story for them.
Did I like this series?
Not...not really. The problems that arose from this series really put a hamper on my enjoyment, and because the characters constantly kept talking about the letters rather than solve the damn situation by themselves, none of their actions seemed like they would progress them as a character and ultimately detached me as a viewer since nothing they did gave me that feeling to care for them.
What didn't I like about this series?
The simple answer would be...probably everything. Yeah, I'll go with that.
Would I recommend this series?
Honestly, no. Orange's plotline had merit to it but ultimately decided to turn the other way and do other things that hurt the series as a whole. It didn't seem like anyone actually gave a damn about Kakeru's story because everyone was basically just following a set of instructions to save this one man and I couldn't bring myself to like such shoddy characters with even shoddier character motivations. In my opinion, Orange has far too many problems that led to little care for its characters and plotline, focusing solely on Deus-ex-machinas in the form of future letters with a paper thin explanation, ultimately leading to a series that squandered its possible potential.
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SLIGHT EPISODE 1 SPOILERS!
Regret is the weakness and pitifulness of you in the past. What you did, and what you didn't do. You will regret. ~Takamiya Naho (Orange).
Orange is the recently finished Summer 2016 Anime by studio Telecom Animation Film, it's 13 episodes long and the adaptation of one of the highest rated Manga on MyAnimeList. It's an engaging story about Depression, Regret, Love and most importantly: Friendship. It does a beautiful job of putting forward these aspects of the show, but does show some flaws along the way. But let's start by quickly going over the show's premise, characters and
Orange is a story about Kakeru Naruse, told from the eyes of Naho Takamiya. Naho recieves a letter from herself 10 years in the future, reciting the exact events of the same day she recieves the letter. The letter tells her that a new transfer student named Kakeru will join her class. The letter not only describes her future, but also asks her to take actions to erase one regret in future Naho's life: "Save Kakeru". Naho grows close with the transfer student at a quick rate, along with her previous friends. Kakeru quickly becomes part of the group, but as the letter told Naho, he will not be around for a long time after his introduction. 10 years from then, Kakeru will already be long gone. Orange is a show that definitely tries to tug at your heartstrings and generally the show takes on a dramatic, yet calm tone.
So, now that you know what the show is about, I'll get started with listen the reasons why I think Orange is worth the watch, and the strengths of the show.
**The Secondary Characters**
Orange is very much a character-driven story, so the characters play a big aspect of the story. The previously mentioned Naho and Kakeru are the primary main cast, but where Orange truly shines is in its secondary characters. In a story like Orange, the group of friends we follow and live along with throughout the story can make or break the story, and I believe Orange absolutely nails the supporting cast.
In short, the most important part of the supporting cast is made up of Hiroto Suwa, Saku Hagita,Takako Chino and Azusa Murasaka. They're all fairly normal people without any big quirks or strong personality traits, but Orange stiill manages to give each of these characters its own personality and interactions between other members of the group. The characters have known each other for a pretty long time and you can feel it. They all play their own role in the group and it does a wonderful job of feeling like a group of friends. They're not interesting or complex characters because they're like actual people. The characters are relatable, understandable and feel like they're realer than most characters in Anime. The show doesn't have the over the top Anime reactions like we see in some shows, and don't have deep psychological issues either like you might see in others. The cast of Orange aren't just characters, they're almost like people. I'm a big fan of interesting characters like you might seen in Monogatari or Welcome to the NHK, but after watching Orange I found a lot more appreciation for well-written normal characters. Sure, they're not interesting, complex or incredible, but they're more human than most other characters we see in the medium. They respond and act like real people, which makes the Anime so much more relatable and engaging.We also get to occasionally see how the future selves of the cast are doing, which adds another great element to the characters.
The Anime is a full adaptation of the manga and it's done in an incredibly well-paced tempo. Every episode of Orange showed progress without feeling like it rushed through the plot, and every episode ended on a note that made me want to watch more of the show. It kept me engaged in the characters and interested in the Anime overall. There's not much to say about it other than the fact that the show is just incredibly well-paced and is a breeze to watch through.
Orange has probably one of my favorite endings of Anime over the past two to three seasons. The final episode is 37 minutes long (almost twice the length of a normal episode) but stays interesting and incredible from the first to last second of it. It concludes the story perfectly, is emotional, unpredictable and is a great finish to the story. I had been looking forward to how the story would end until the first episode and it blew away my expectations. The ending might not be very grand or bombastic, but it's beautiful.
When looking at this sub you might find multiple comments saying that Orange looks derpy, badly animated or wonky, but I think that apart from having some lower-quality moments mixed in there, the show looks great. The character designs are simple yet memorable, and it has its own style that is refreshing yet doesn't stray too far from the style we're used to. The color palette is very natural, bright and beautiful and the background art looks great, but the thing that makes Orange so aestethically pleasing is how it all comes together. The character design, school uniforms, color palette and background all work together incredibly well to make every scene look stunning. The only thing that occasionally looks questionable is the facial expressions of the background characters, but I can look past that.
Of course, Orange isn't perfect, and it's definitely not flawless either. It definitely has some problems that deserve to be addressed.
**Naho and Kakeru**
As great as the secondary cast is, the main roles in Orange are lacking compared to the others. Naho and Kakeru seem bland and characterless for most of the series, and they lack any real personality. Naho is your typical "cute but shy" type of character, that is dense like a forest but is the sweetest person on the planet despite it, and Kakeru a pretty normal High-School Shoujo love interest. He's kind, he's cool yet not cocky and he's friendly. The characters don't go much farther than that. I wouldn't say they're bad characters, just very unmemorable. Still, the interactions between Naho and Kakeru and the rest of the group are still interesting, purely being carried by the secondary cast.
Orange is secondary to being a Drama story mostly a Romance-focused story. Kakeru is established as a love interest for Naho pretty early on, and while being a story about saving Kakeru, it's also a story about the romance between Naho and Kakeru that develops. Sadly, this romance has very little to be excited about. From early on it's pretty clear that Naho is incredibly dense when it comes to romance and Kakeru is not much different (though he has his reasons). A romance between two dense characters has a very unsatisfying way of developing and is probably the only aspect of the show that I'd call "painfully slow".
So, like stated in the premise, Naho recieves letters from the future telling her what to do. The Anime seems to gloss over the fact that there is time travel-esque things going on for a very long time and the aspect gets addressed only once or twice in the entire series. The show isn't *about* time travel, so it makes sense that they're not focusing on it, but the show seems to ignore it in such a way that it almost makes clear that they don't want to explain how and are not going to either.
Orange has its flaws, like stated previously. That said, the show managed to be engaging, interesting, emtional, memorable and good enough to get my overall rating of an 8.2 (Great). While objectively (as far as that even makes sense) the show might have its problems, the overall experience of it is an experience that satisfied me greatly in the end and the show was a joy to watch through. If you like a great Drama story with realistic characters and lots of emotion, I'd recommend Orange to you any day of the week.